Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Monday denied reports of Border Patrol agents whipping Haitian migrants attempting to illegally enter the United States, but on Tuesday changed his mind, saying he was “horrified” by what he saw.
Images and videos published on Sunday by multiple news outlets seemed to show agents “whipping” Haitians. According to the New York Post, Mayorkas initially denied those allegations to reporters in Del Rio, Texas, on Monday. Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz also denied that whips were used on the migrants.
“Mayorkas and Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz told reporters in Del Rio, Texas Monday that they saw nothing obviously wrong with how the agents acted based on initial viewings of the images and footage. Mayorkas explained that agents use long reins — not whips — to control their horses, while Ortiz cited the difficulty in distinguishing migrants from smugglers as people move back and forth near the river,” the Post reported. “Ortiz added he would investigate the agents’ actions to make sure nothing ‘unacceptable’ took place.”
On Tuesday, however, Mayorkas seemed to change his opinion on the allegations, saying he was “horrified” by what he saw.
“I was horrified by what I saw,” Mayorkas said on CNN’s New Day. “I’m going to let the investigation run its course. But the pictures that I observed troubled me profoundly. That defies all of the values that we seek to instill in our people.”
Mayorkas defended the use of horse patrols along the U.S. border, but said the images and videos defy “all of the values that we seek to instill in our people.”
“I saw the values that we do instill in our people in exhibition when I visited under the bridge and saw them work with the American Red Cross, the Department of Health and Human Services, World Central Kitchen, in addressing the needs of a vulnerable population of migrants under the bridge in Del Rio,” he said on CNN. “That reflects who we are, and any mistreatment or abuse of an individual defies … our values and who we are and what we stand for.”
Border patrol agents told reporters that the images seen were horse reins, not whips. One Border Patrol agent told Fox News digital editor Peter Hasson that agents on horseback “do not carry whips” and that the pictures show reins.
“BP does an excellent job when it comes to use of force training,” the agent added. “There is no way a horse patrol unit would be whipping aliens. Whips are not issued or authorized for use.”
Another agent told Townhall’s Julio Rosas that “Agents use their reins for a lot of reasons.”
“Primarily it’s used to steer the horse, but agents will also spin them sometimes to deter people from getting too close to the horse…We are not aware of anyone being struck with the reins.”